Maine Delegation, Gov. Mills touts win for lobster industry in spending package provision

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 1:32 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - A huge win for Maine’s Lobster industry.

That’s what the state’s congressional delegation was talking about Wednesday morning with the delay of proposed new regulations on lobster fishing in Maine.

They were on a victory tour Wednesday morning holding a virtual press conference to discuss the omnibus spending package expected to pass the House and Senate in the coming days.

An amendment to the $1.7 trillion spending package unveiled Tuesday would leave existing lobster fishing rules in place for six years, thwarting stricter regulations aimed at protecting North Atlantic right whales, which are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.

Senators Collins and King, Representatives Golden and Pingree, along with Governor Mills and lobsterman Curt Brown - who joined live from his boat on the water - all said the industry has been unfairly targeted and in fact - Maine has been leading the way in protecting the whales at the center of these issues.

“This is a straightforward common sense compromise that will allow our lobstermen to continue to operate while still complying with the most recent right whale rule,” said Gov. Mills.

“The future looks much brighter today than it has for a long, long time. I would argue that there isn’t a group in the country that’s done more to protect right whales than Maine’s lobster men and women. The measures that we have taken over the last 20 years that you’ve heard everybody speak about have worked. No documented entanglements since 2004. No documented mortalities ever with Maine gear. The modifications that we’ve made to the gear that you can see right here on my boat have worked and we’re proud of the measures that we have taken and we’re proud of their effectiveness,” said Brown.

The deadline is midnight Friday for Congress to pass the omnibus and for President Biden to sign it, to avoid a partial government shutdown.